Building Your Online Brand
Now that you've developed a strategy for Getting People to Your Website, it's time to think about what you're putting in front of people. It's important they get a clear, memorable idea of who you are and what you do. Make it short and sweet.
Short because the Internet is a big place. People are unlikely to linger long. Load them with too much information and you'll lose their attention. Sweet because, again, the Internet is a big place. There are lots of options. Set yourself apart.
Say It with a Brand
Think fast... Nike. Holiday Inn. What are some of the first things that came to mind? Chances are, they included athleticism, performance footwear, and a stylish logo and colors. Or the color green and excellent value. You're starting to get the idea: Branding. Your online brand combines memorable features — short — and a lasting, favorable impression — sweet.
We can help you with the former element, but the latter is up to you. It won't help having a memorable brand unless it's backed by solid products or services.
But unlike Nike or Holiday Inn, you probably don't have PR gurus or Madison Avenue marketing in your budget. No problem. You're already working with the tools you need to be your own ad whiz. It starts with a domain name and how you use it to establish your name, message and reputation.
Got a tagline to entice people? You should. Try to make it 140 characters or less. We'll talk about that later. Doesn't matter if it's business or personal. Your online presence needs a short and sweet message.
Online branding isn't too hard with the right game plan. Here it is:
Stand Behind Your Brand
Domains say a lot with a little. A thoughtfully chosen domain draws people to you, so make sure there's more to find out — online and offline. Let customers visit a brick-and-mortar storefront during business hours, or, simply, hand them your business cards.
Create a Facebook® page where people can see who follows you and what they're saying about you. Remember Twitter? Use those 140 characters or less to send out short-and-sweet tweets reinforcing your slogan or specials or new products. Those make up your brand. If it goes viral, your brand on the Internet becomes a household name.
Whether it's online or offline, make sure your storefront or Facebook page proudly displays elements of your brand. If you have a slogan on your signage, it should be on your Facebook page, too, and maybe even your business cards. If you created a color combination or logo, those, too, should be in front of customers — whether they're walking into your storefront or following you online.
Don't fall prey to impostors or let someone else piggyback off your brilliance. It's not hard to protect your domain. Remember extensions? If you haven't read it yet, Domain Name Basics has lots of great info. It's a good idea to register your domain with different extensions. Call it a preemptive strike. Get those domains before someone else does.
Also think about typos or mistakes people might make when they enter your domain in their browsers. Typing pedals instead of petals is an easy one. Unless a cyclist registered that, chances are your visitors will be confused and frustrated when they don't land on your gardening website.
There's always room for growth. If you have even the vaguest inkling of an idea, better get that domain before it goes away. It might just be a gut feeling now. But once inspiration strikes, you'll be glad you laid the groundwork.
Use Your Domains
Do something with that portfolio of strategically registered domains. Each domain you register with us comes with a few freebies, including email. Beyond that, we have products for everything imaginable. Keep track of it from one place — your Account Manager.
Don't ignore those domains you registered for strategic purposes. Forward them to your primary domain. When people enter the incorrect variations you registered, they go right to your real domain.
Meanwhile, you could say email is the new business card. It's so easy to set up, a custom email address is a branding must-have. Do you think email@example.com is good branding? That's sharing half the brand with Google! Awesome as Gmail might be, firstname.lastname@example.org is better branding.
There are a ton of Gmail users out there. Using a Gmail address on your business card puts you shoulder to shoulder with everyone else in the Gmail-isphere. You want to stand out from them. Doing business as email@example.com says a couple things:
One, you're not the average Joe. Second, people know where to find you. Take the red carpet straight to coolexample.com. You don't need a website to use custom email. Just a domain. You can get to your account using our email on the Web or with other interfaces — often called clients — such as your mobile device.
When it comes to getting traffic to you, we offer lots of tools to help with the heavy lifting. But a few things you should do on your own, starting with social media. We're talking stuff like Facebook, Twitter and blogs related to your business or interests.
So, Facebook. You either want a profile or a page dedicated to your business or interest you can tie in to your domain. Now, Twitter. Let's look at that tagline: 140 characters or less, right? That limit happens to be the spec for tweets. You know, those short messages that often contain # or @? When you tweet that message, make room for your email address or domain.
Speaking of, what's your email address? Take the prefix — the word or phrase that precedes @ — and create user IDs for blogs you can find with a search using keywords related to your business or interest. Leave comments including your email address or domain.
Hopefully, this information laid the groundwork for a thoughtful, creative brand representing yourself and all the wonderful things you do.
Speaking of all the wonderful things you do — especially now that you're backed by a brand — you might consider going into business for yourself. Maybe you're already headed that direction.